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The start of a new romantic relationship should be the easiest. Both parties are on their best behavior. Sparks fly. You constantly laugh at each other’s jokes. Every hangout seems like a date night. When all that is said and done, you start to become comfortable with one another. That is when the conflicts begin. Arguments become more frequent. Compromising feels like a chore. Soon enough, feelings are hurt, hearts get broken and both sides are left thinking how it all went wrong.

People understand that a relationship takes work, but what people do not realize is the type of work it takes to make things last — happily that is. In a solid relationship, both parties consistently continue their good habits and efforts they had once showcased to win each other over during the beginning of their dating phase. Here are a few simple guidelines that happy long term couples do to keep their love going strong.

Compromise. Disagreements are inevitable. You give and take in a relationship. If the seesaw is tipped too much on one side or the other, there is going to be trouble. Give in and take your partner’s side this time around and he/she will undoubtedly do the same for you. Love unselfishly. It will be returned.

Agree to disagree. Always respect your partner’s opinion. You both come from different backgrounds with different experiences, which more or less shape the way you think and view things. Be respectful of your significant other’s thoughts even if you may not agree. Always try to see things from their point of view.

Surprises. We always remember the big things, but doing the little things can easily be forgotten. Remember when you first started dating and you would surprise him by dropping off lunch at his work place or bringing her flowers just because? The little things you did then should be continued throughout the years to come. It is endearing and reminds one another how much you care.

Plan a random outing or a date night. Dress up fancy and look good for each other. This may help keep the spark going and spice things up when you hit a slump. Plan a day together for quality time where it is just the two of you and no distractions.

Continue to be on your best behavior. When you first began dating, you did not leave a pile of your dirty dishes on the kitchen table after eating dinner. I am sure you kindly asked your partner if he or she needed help. Be courteous and help out with the dishes and chores. Pick up after yourself. (P.S. [d1] [d2] boys, after you use the restroom, leave the toilet seat cover down. Please.) Cleanliness is a key factor whether you are living together or just hanging out at each other’s places.

 Have fun with friends. Keep strong ties and bonds with your high school and college buddies. I have seen this happen to many couples where they disappear from their social circles once they are in a relationship. Friends are important for a relationship.  Doing group activities with your partner and close friends normally ends in a good time. It adds variety to your everyday routine as a couple.

Remember, love is not easy. Happy endings just don’t drop from the sky, just as money does not grow from trees. It takes work. It takes sacrifice. Commitment. Fight. It takes more than just an apology attached with a colorful bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates.

I am a strong advocate for love. Love is the greatest inspiration to this world. Love brings color to the dull and light to darkness. It is the only thing that can make the impossible seem possible. Be mindful that the best things always come free and anything worthwhile never comes easy. We are only human, therefore, when things are free, we always tend to overlook it. When things aren’t easy, we tend to give up. So love with all your might.

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